politics

12 unions warn PM they'll fight 'tooth and nail' against attacks on work rights


Twelve of the nation’s biggest unions have warned they’ll fight Boris Johnson “tooth and nail” to stop any watering down of workers’ rights.

The leaders of unions including Unite, Unison and the GMB sent the warning shot to the Prime Minister after his government let slip it was reviewing protections at work.

The Financial Times revealed officials are looking at the 48-hour cap on the working week and rules on factoring overtime into holiday pay as part of a post-Brexit shake-up.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted rights would not be watered down – but did not deny the individual proposals and admitted a review was under way.

In a statement handed to the Mirror (below), the union chiefs say working people have been putting their lives on the line during the pandemic.



UNISON General Secretary Christina McAnea
UNISON General Secretary Christina McAnea

They add: “It is unconscionable that at a time of immense loss, sadness and uncertainty for our country, when thousands of people are dying each day and we are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs, that they have prioritised drawing up these plans.

“The government have long promised that our rights at work would be ‘protected and enhanced’ – they simply have no mandate and no public support for ripping them up.”

Boris Johnson is facing a Commons challenge from Labour tonight on workers’ rights.

Keir Starmer will put forward a motion saying “all existing employment rights and protections must be maintained, including the 48-hour working week, rest breaks at work and inclusion of overtime pay when calculating some holiday pay entitlements.”

Labour’s Opposition Day motion – which is not legally binding – will also call on ministers to “set out to Parliament by the end of January 2021 a timetable to introduce legislation to end fire and re-hire tactics.”



Boris Johnson is facing pressure on his workers' rights plans after Brexit (pictured today)
Boris Johnson is facing pressure on his workers’ rights plans after Brexit (pictured today)

But Boris Johnson is expected to tell his MPs not to vote for Labour’s motion.

Instead the Tories have put forward an amendment deleting Labour’s entire motion and replacing it with vague platitudes.

The amendment boasts that the UK “has one of the best employment rights records in the world, which has never been dependent on the UK’s membership of the EU, and in a number of areas provides stronger protections than the EU.”

It also hails the Tory manifesto pledge “not to weaken existing protections for workers” and “welcomes the opportunity to decide what rules should apply that work best for the UK.”

The post-Brexit package comes despite numerous pledges by Boris Johnson that the Conservatives would not exploit quitting the bloc to undermine protections for employees.

Writing exclusively for the Mirror, Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said: “With all that the working people of our country have been through, with all the sacrifices they have made, with all the dangers they have faced, who could possibly think the answer is to say they have too many rights?”

The 12 union leaders’ statement in full

Last week, rumours emerged in the Financial Times that the government has been secretly drawing up plans to water down more of our members’ workplace rights, including on working time inclusive of time spent on-call, rest breaks and paid holiday entitlements. After initially denying the rumours, the Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed this week that the rumours are true, and government are in fact reviewing workplace protections.

It is unconscionable that at a time of immense loss, sadness and uncertainty for our country, when thousands of people are dying each day and we are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs, that they have prioritised drawing up these plans. The government have long promised that our rights at work would be ‘protected and enhanced’ – they simply have no mandate and no public support for ripping them up.

A loss of basic rights affects everyone. Losing these hard-won rights would lower living standards further after a decade of stagnating pay and growing insecurity, causing working people to further tighten their belts and hold back any economic recovery. Millions of workers are already working crushingly long hours and further removing rights to rest, limits on working hours or disregarding workers time spent on-call endangers not only them, but also puts public safety at risk – no one wants their loved ones to receive care from a chronically overworked nurse or be driven home by an exhausted bus driver.

Working people are putting themselves in harm’s way every day to keep this country fed, safe, cared for and connected – keeping our country going under unimaginable pressures. With insecurity rife throughout much of our economy we believe this pandemic should be a turning point where working people should have their rights at work strengthened, not threatened. The whole of the labour movement will fight tooth and nail to protect and extend our rights.

Len McCluskey, Unite

Christina McAnea, Unison

Paddy Lillis, USDAW

Warren Kenny, GMB

Dave Ward, CWU

Manuel Cortes, TSSA

Mick Whelan, ASLEF

Roy Rickhuss, Community

Matt Wrack, FBU

Horace Trubridge, MU

Ian Hodson & Sarah Woolley, BFAWU

Chris Kitchen, NUM





READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more